More than $32,000 are available for distribution or have already been distributed from the Help Now! Fund over the last several weeks to victims, families and witnesses of the February 20 shootings in Kalamazoo. These funds continue to help with a variety of immediate needs, including funeral costs, lost wages and counseling services.

All victims, families and witnesses have now been contacted regarding available resources by victim advocates. Help Now! Funds have leveraged additional assistance from local, state and federal agencies and organizations.

More than $142,000 has been donated to the Help Now! Fund by 310 individuals and organizations.

The Help Now! Fund is a collaborative regional response of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

"Over the last several weeks we've been doing our due diligence to ensure we honor donor intent and maximize the impact of these community resources," says Carrie Pickett-Erway, president/CEO, Kalamazoo Community Foundation. "We continue responding to the immediate needs of the people affected, while carefully balancing the assessment of needs and expedient distribution of support."

Says Mike Larson, president and CEO, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, "Our primary focus continues to be addressing financial, emotional and other needs of the victims, their families and witnesses.

"Because we have received gifts that are restricted in a variety of ways, we are working to ensure the state and federal dollars are leveraged in the best possible way to help address intermediate and long-term needs," he says.

Intermediate needs include: community counseling, healing and safety services that address the aftermath of violence, community gatherings and anti-violence activities.

Long-term needs include: citizen safety planning, violence preparedness efforts and other activities to reduce community violence.

According to Brenda Hunt, president and CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, "Our organizations have been inspired by the continuous outpouring of generous and compassionate support. We continue to be touched by the handwritten notes, phone calls and emails of those wanting to help.